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My Manufactured Victory Finale

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Our ShineSheet bot got dismantled by an angry mob one day; Uncle Hebert and I were able to sell some of the scrap parts at least. We still had Yohan, the ever useless talking armband bot, and so we were the most destitute we had ever been in our lives.

Blame the war.

When not scrounging around for food, Uncle and I spent our days fiddling around with Yohan out of sheer boredom; the Tyrik had cut off civilian communications to the SatNet so our Wrist Assistants were pretty much just expensive glowing lights.

It amused us to play with Yohan; we developed some armbands that no one would ever want but pleased us nonetheless in our condition. We made one that turned your voice into that of a llama, another that made you sound like you were always speaking with your mouth full, another that made you sound like a cartoonish version of my mother, and many many more. With the world blowing up all around us non-combatants, we had nothing but time. Stressful, starving, scared time.

One day, when uncle was the one whose turn it was to scavenge, I had an  idea.

I tinkered around with Yohan and produced an armband that created the squawking voice of a Tyrik. There was no sound for Yohan to pull from some database somewhere thanks to the aforementioned disconnection from the SatNet, but I still had the storage on my Wrist Assistant. Most things are stored on the cloud, but the Wrist Assistants are still built with on board storage; through some quirk of programming, the fateful call from the Tyrik refugees so long ago was downloaded onto my device. It took me a while, but I was able to strip away the translator's voice and leave behind only the sound of the Tyrik. From there, I was able to link the voice to Yohan and its luglike computer mind was able to work out basic Tyrik speech with only a few gentle nudges of my own personal programmings.

I held one of the armbands in my hand. I didn't know what I was going to do with it, but I knew I held some sort of solution in my palms. I printed out a couple more of them and shoved them all into my pocket.

Uncle Hebert still hadn't come home, which under normal circumstances would have made me start to worry, but I was too involved in cranking those brain gears that I hadn't worked in a long time.

I left our little ramshackle abode and committed to doing something really dumb.

I knew the back alleys of New York like the back of my hand by this point, and so I was able to make my way to the capital building without being assaulted by the millions of weirdos (read: looters) that constantly roved the broken city. The only building that seemed to function properly, no matter how rough the war got, was the building where the New York government was seated.

I made the guess that they still had some sort of connection to the SatNet, and thus would be the perfect place to give my crazed plan a spin.

The Earthling government had long known how to replicate Tyrik speech and voice for use in dummy transmissions during wartime, but that wasn't what I was going to use the armbands for.

The building was guarded, naturally, so from the shadows I whispered "Die, human scum!" into one of the armbands, set a timer, then chucked it far from my position.

About thirty seconds later, a shrieky Tyrik voice came rolling out of an alleyway - the guardbots immediately abandoned their post to rip up what stupid little enemy had been so bold as to threaten the citizens of New York.

I took my opening and darted in. I knew they would still catch my entrance on some sort of camera or sensor or something.

Right on cue, I entered the building and alarms of "unidentified unit!" started going off. I spoke into my armband, "I've come to make a treaty with you. Take me to your leader."

It was a silly thing to say, but it really fucked with the computerized systems as they listened to the Tyrik voice. I made my way deeper into the compound while computerized voices argued with each other in binary bursts of incongruity. AI had come so far, but computers were still so easy to trip up sometimes.

I waltzed over to a nearby comm room.

If you're wondering how on Earth I know all of these systems and the layout of a government building... let's just say I had a really interesting internship designing AI for the government while I was at university.

It was empty - under-staffing due to the plague was a real problem. I spoke into the armband which in turn spoke through a communications microphone that I had on direct signal to the Human Federation president.

"Silly humans need better defenses," I spoke in Tyrik tones.

It was a matter of seconds before I got an audio response from the President's security. "We have your location, we are dispatching a squad to apprehend you."

My heart pounded. I did not expect that sort of immediate retaliation. I began to speak quickly. "Fool! Do not turn down the information of a double agent when you hear it!"

Silence. I heard muffled discussion, nothing I could make out. Then the weary voice of the president came onto the line. "Be quick about it."

"Tyrik are weary of war. They begin to move on the great mountain of Mars to end it with words or weapons. That is all."

"What more can -"

I cut the line.

Acting fast, I opened up a direct line to the Tyrik Oligarchy - fairly easy to do as this comm room had been used to communicate with the leaders of the Tyrik many times; contact information was on file.

"The humans are weak on Mars. You will soon find peace in your hands," I said the instant I was able to get through.

One of the leaders responded - "Who is this? How can we trust you?"

"Look up my location," I rattled faster now that I could hear the security systems getting their act together, "I've infiltrated them, I have information -" I didn't get to say anymore. Security shut off the comms and I was instantly subdued with a dart to the neck.

When I awoke in my cell, war had ceased. I learned that the two races met each other on mars, weapons primed and ready, but negotiation channels were opened up the instant the armies met. I knew it had been a long shot when I started my absurd scheme, but the two factions had only been involved in token skirmishes for many months, both wearied by the war effort. The Tyrik came expecting easy victory, and the humans expecting a final stand. When each army of warships came into contact with each other, instantly talks began to avert the loss of life that seemed imminent.

A tenuous peace was declared - all that I learned watching the television in my holding cell. My chance of ever getting out was next to none, but I didn't care; now that the war was finally over, something could really and truly be done about the damn plague.

We never found a cure, or a reason it was there in the first place. But once the war was over, the disastrous disease began to die down at the same time for unknown reasons.

I'm satisfied at the role I played. Whether or not I'll ever be let out is a different matter entirely. The government agents that talk with me are alternately grateful, embarrassed, and furious; those last two emotions are what's likely going to keep me stuck here for a long time. Uncle visited me once; he couldn't bring himself to say anything. I think he was disappointed in me, somehow.

At least my quarters are comfy.


Thieving Road

Two Years